TAPMI Director Vision Series: Building a Research Intensive School

Research forms an important part of knowledge building. As Neil Armstrong said, “Research is creating new knowledge.”

TAPMI’s Vision 2022 discusses in detail the impetus that the institute puts on quality research and the distribution of well investigated analytical information or ‘new knowledge’ by the faculty. Research by faculty would help to build a well-rounded knowledge base for the students, providing them with a wide range of perspectives and taking a huge step towards creating industry ready individuals.

In this article, Prof. Madhu Veeraraghavan digs deep into why research is imperative and how he aims to integrate the same in not only the lives of the students at TAPMI but also into the daily schedules of the faculty, leading to better learning outcomes, as detailed in Vision 2022.

The mission of TAPMI states ‘To excel in post graduate management education, research and practice’ as per the Vision 2022 document. How are you planning to work to achieve the outcomes towards the mission and the initiatives which will be taken for the same?

The first thing that we are trying to do is, look at hiring, i.e., strategic hiring of faculty. So, as TAPMI is a research-intensive school, we are very conscious that we want people with PhDs, expert research potential and publications in top journals. Therefore, that should lead to better learning outcomes for students.

When faculty come with excellent research experience, they can translate their knowledge back into the class. TAPMI has moved from the point where we want to do only text book and white board teaching. It is clearly experiential in nature. So, my vision will be to provide students hands on experience whether they are HR Majors, Marketing Majors, Finance Majors or Operations Majors. It’s to somehow bridge the gap between theory and practice and give them an experiential sense which will put them in good stead when they go into the real world.

How does research lead to better learning outcomes for students?

If you look at schools around the world, the Harvards, the Princetons, the Stanfords, the temples of learning, you will find that faculty do three important things: they do quality research, they do quality teaching and they do quality service both internal to the university or to the school and external to the institution. Now how does it translate? You look at TAPMI as an example. We are a AACSB certified school. AACSB says that you’ve got to be mission driven and if you go back to the mission we clearly say that we are a school that wants to excel in research, education and practice. So, if we don’t excel in research, we have not even fulfilled what our mission is. Therefore, research is important.

How does research translate? By doing very high-quality research we can attract high quality professors. When high quality professors come into the class, or into TAPMI, the AACSB and other global bodies tend to see that this is a very research active school. The longer you move away from research, the worse it gets. Because then you become nothing much other than a teaching shop and that is something TAPMI will never do.

As a former senior faculty at Monash University, did you find your interest in research here? Is research an important element which can help TAPMI also differentiate itself from the perceived competition?

I did my PhD overseas and was there for 20 years almost and worked in the top schools. You don’t get a tenure if you don’t do research so research is something that becomes so integral to you as an academic because that’s what you do in a PhD program. Unfortunately, the Indian PhD programs don’t do that so they do something and then they say that will be it and the research doesn’t ever take off. Not for all faculty but for a part of the faculty. But when you are in the west because the tenure is so different that you will have to publish or you perish. You will not have a tenure. After 5 years you are out of the system. And so that becomes almost a lifelong habit.

And more importantly, not just tenure but it’s also an intellectual journey. If I don’t show my passion for research, I’m not able to rub it on my PhD scholars or my junior faculty. There’s got to be a concerted buzz around the corridor that research is important because an academic does knowledge creation. If I don’t do research I don’t create knowledge. If I don’t create, what do I disseminate? Dissemination is what a professor does when he goes to class. But if I’m not creating anything, what am I disseminating? So, the creation and dissemination must go hand in hand. So, research is about knowledge creation. When you go into the class it’s about knowledge dissemination. So, the student knows that this is what an academic world does. So, the nexus between research and teaching is very high.

I believe all business schools in the country, by all I mean the top 20-30 business schools in the country, should have a clear emphasis on research. There is no question because you will never enter the global ranking scheme based on a Harvard Case or a pedagogical narration. That will get you somewhere but never get you in the global ranking scheme. To be in the top 100-200 schools in the world, you must be a very active research school.

T.A. Pai Management Institute, one of India’s leading B-schools, has always focused on creating industry ready leaders who are trained to face the corporate world and its challenges. Director Prof Madhu Veeraraghavan has highlighted several objectives in alignment to his Vision 2022. In conversation with him, we discovered much more about the Vision 2022 and his thoughts on research, education and experiential learning.

For further articles in this series, click here.